Maybe SOE isn't exactly an evil empire after all.
Sony is helping the local Austin chapter of Habitat for Humanity to raise awareness and funding for the program and also find homes for needy families. How they're doing it is really interesting, though: as an in-game housing demolition event occurs in SWG, SOE is matching the number of houses destroyed with charitable contributions! From the press release:
In SOEs Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) MMO, there was a surplus of player-created houses and buildings that had been abandoned or left unoccupied by players. SOE Austin VP of Development John Blakely wanted to remove the houses, but do so in a way that is uniquely Star Wars the buildings were marked as condemned by the evil Galactic Empire, and scheduled for demolition TIE fighters would swoop in and bomb the buildings to the ground.
The SWG community was also given the chance to join in the fun of this urban renewal; players were provided reward points for the number of buildings they destroyed, which could be redeemed for special in-game items like droids, paintings and furniture. When we initially conceived this idea, we didnt know how the community was going to react, said Blakely. Oddly enough, it was very well received; some players that hadnt been in the game for months came back to reclaim their property, re-activate their accounts and start playing the game again.
SOE Austin took things one step further and offered to match the number of houses demolished with a donation to charity, considering Austin Habitat for Humanity first. Using the money we raised blowing-up virtual houses and buildings to help build real homes was a no-brainer for us, said Blakely. Austin Habitat for Humanity has done incredible work in the community, helping people find good homes, and our whole studio wanted to contribute to their efforts.